Posted: Feb 7, 2013 4:00 PM
KINGSVILLE, Texas - Just days before the home season opener this weekend hosting the Javelina Classic, The Texas A&M-Kingsville softball program prepares for their upcoming season. Here is a preview of this year's squad.
In 2013, the Javelinas begin year three under Ricki Rothbauer. The 2012 campaign, much like her first in 2011, was riddled with season ending injuries that changed the line up drastically between start and finish. The Javelinas finished the year with five of nine starters in new positions and closed the campaign with a final record of 17-33.
This season, the Javelinas look to emphasize productivity up and down the line up and on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball. The team spent the fall and will spend the preseason focused on recognizing and taking advantage of situational opportunities to score and working to minimize opponents' scoring opportunities by getting first outs and making all routine plays.
The Javelinas were picked ninth in the Lone Star Conference Preseason Poll, but expectations are for a return to the LSC Tournament after a two-year absence. The team returns eight starters from last year including three seniors; two-time all LSC Conference shortstop Rose Stubbs, Kodie Garner and Denise Arnold.
Now let's take a look at a position-by-position breakdown of the 2012 Javelinas.
Senior Kodie Garner, junior Taylor McGill, and freshman Krista Leal will fight for time behind the dish. Garner had only 4 passed balls in 46 games played in 2012, picked off two runners, and caught 13 of the 47 runners who attempted to steal on her. She hit .340 overall and just shy of the .400-mark in conference play. Taylor McGill established some versatility in the 2012 campaign, seeing time behind the plate and in right field. This fall and preseason, McGill may see time behind the plate, at first base, and in the designated player role. Krista Leal had nagging injuries throughout her first fall semester at Texas A&M University-Kingsville. She is working to remain healthy and may see time behind the plate and as the designated player.
Junior transfer, Adela Gomez (Alvin Community College) will see the most time at first base this year. She is a great defensive first baseman. She feeds confidence to her surrounding infielders with her ability to dig low throws. During her sophomore season at Alvin, she hit .301 with a .496 slugging percentage and 25 RBI's en route to earning Second Team All-Region XIV South Zone honors. She led the team to a pair of Region XIV Tournament appearances. Gomez will be stationed in the middle of the Javelina lineup where she is expected to be on of the leading RBI producers.
Bailey Offill started 22 games at second base last season and is expected to hold down the position in 2013. In 2012, her fielding percentage was among the team's highest at .980. Freshman Chastity Estrello may also see time at second base, among other utility players, sophomore Jaeleen Castro and junior Cortnee White.
Rose Stubbs will anchor the infield at shortstop, after having finished the 2012 season as the starter in left field. She was recognized as a Second Team All-Lone Star Conference South Division selection in 2011 after playing 41 consecutive errorless games. She was recognized by the LSC again 2012 as a third team All Conference honoree having hit .347, scoring 30 runs, striking out just 5 times in 167 at bats, and holding a .958 fielding percentage. She is expected to hold the leadoff spot in the lineup this year. Castro and White may see time at shortstop as well throughout the season.
Sophomore Lex Cordova completed her first fall with the Javelinas in 2012-2013 and is expected to see the bulk of her time at third base. In 2012, Cordova saw action in 14 games serving mostly as a designated player. She racked up a .237 batting average, with nine hits, batting in four runs. ??She was a four-year starter at New Braunfels High School and hit .577 as a senior
The 2013 Javelinas have a slew of experienced outfielders to choose from. They return Castro, and redshirt junior Corina Noel, who was on the roster in 2012, but was completing her year of residency to be able to compete in 2013. Castro saw time in left and center fields last season. She hit .288 as a true freshman with a .409 on base percentage. She is expected to start in center field this year. Junior College transfers Cortnee White and Carynn Gonzales, both from Alvin Community College, and Zoila Olguin, from Texarkana Junior College, will compete for spots in the grass along with true freshman, Ariana Munoz, from Alice High School. The outfield crew is composed of a mix of athleticism and strong arms and is expected to be much stronger all around than any of Rothbauer's previous outfield staffs.
This year's Javelina pitching staff returns senior Arnold and junior Lauren Denney. Denney comes off a meniscus tear repair surgery and is looking to improve in overall strength and endurance in the early part of the season. Arnold, who saw 32 appearances last season looks to improve on consistency and her game pace this year.
The staff adds sophomore Division I transfer, Katrisha Arocha. Arocha played one year at Mississippi Valley State University. She appeared in seven games in relief posting a 1-0 record with a 1.00 earned run average and two saves in 14.0 innings of work. In high school, Arocha was a four-time all-district player, having played her first two years at Southside High School and her final two years at Southwest High School. As a senior, she earned Texas 5A All-State honors as a pitcher. She was named the 5A All-Area Pitcher of the Year and the San Antonio Express-News Super Team Pitcher. During her junior season she was the District 29-5A Most Valuable Player and the 5A All-Area Pitcher of the Year. She earned honorable mention all-district honors as a pitcher during her sophomore year and first team all-district honors as an outfielder in her freshman campaign. She compiled a 58-10 record, 519 strikeouts and a 1.08 ERA in her final two years of high school.
Kingsville's home opener is scheduled Saturday, Feb. 9, at 11:30 a.m. as they face Texas A&M International.
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